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'He was loved by everybody': Resident of long-term care home is first New Brunswicker to die of COVID-19
HALIFAX -- Health officials in New Brunswick have confirmed the province’s first death related to COVID-19.
Family members confirmed the death of Daniel Ouellette to CTV News.
According to a Facebook post from Michel Ouellette, his father died at 5:10 a.m. Thursday. He was 84.
“In these difficult times it is with a very, very heavy heart that I saw the passing of our father Daniel (Ti-Dan) Ouellette,” said Michel Ouellette in his post. “He will be missed by all of us.”
The family says he was a resident at Manoir de la Vallée in Atholville, N.B., near Campbellton, for two years.
He is survived by his wife, five children, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
When contacted later Thursday morning, Ouellette spoke glowingly of his father.
"He was the number 1 father," said Ouellette. "He was good in everything, he showed us a lot of things. He was loved by everybody, a real joker, a good dancer. My mom is going to miss him a lot.”
Ouellette said his dad was doing well before last week, although Alzheimer's was starting to kick in.
He says he'll remember his dad for all the help and wisdom he gladly shared.
“He was a go-to man," Ouellette said. "He was little bit of a carpenter, a little bit of this, a little bit of that – every time we asked him something, he would show us how to do it.”
Ouellette said his father was taken to the Campbellton Regional Hospital on Sunday after contracting COVID-19.
"That’s when the tornado hit me,” Ouellette said. “And the doctor said we’re going to do some tests and I’ll call you back. So an hour later they called me, and they said, well he’s still not responded, we put him on oxygen and he’s having trouble breathing. So they kept on working on him, all day, all night. Every time they called me it was worse and worse.”
Ouellette said he last saw his father in February, but hasn't been able to see him because of the pandemic restrictions. The pain of not seeing him got worse when his dad was in the hospital in intensive care.
“The thing that hit me the most, we couldn’t go to the hospital to see him, to touch him, and talk to him, comfort him," Ouellette said. "That was bad. It’s the worst thing that somebody can go through is that, so I don’t wish that to nobody, to go through that.”
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell said this was the day she cautioned New Brunswickers to expect -- all while doing their best to prevent it.
"My heartfelt condolences go out to the family and loved ones of this individual as they grieve in this difficult time," Dr. Russell said. "And really my thoughts are with the entire region of Cambellton as they are feeling the stressful effects right now of COVID-19 in a very unfortunate way."
Premier Blaine Higgs said "like all New Brunswickers, I received the news of our first COVID-19-related death with a heavy heart."
Dr. Russell urged New Brunswickers to follow public health directives and remain vigilant to prevent any more deaths.
"This is a very sad day for all of New Brunswickers," Dr. Russell said. "It has been difficult to witness the unfolding outbreak in the Campbellton-Restigouche region, which has gripped that community with stress and worry and now grief. We are grieving today, but we are also moving forward."
Dr. Russell said it's not possible to just "freeze in one place" and hope that COVID-19 doesn't affect us.
"We can't stand still because of this pandemic," she said. "We have to adjust our daily lives and regular routines to meet the challenge of life during this global pandemic."
Manoir de la Vallée, a long-term care home in northern New Brunswick, is experiencing an outbreak of the virus connected to the recent cluster of COVID-19 cases in the Campbellton region. As of Wednesday, eight cases had been linked to the facility.
The Campbellton COVID-19 cluster started when a child in the region was diagnosed on May 21.
Five days later, an individual in their 90s tested positive in the same zone.
The next day, the province announced a person in their 50s had tested positive, and that the two previous cases were linked to this individual -- a health-care worker who had travelled to Quebec and failed to self-isolate upon his return to New Brunswick.
New Brunswick had gone two weeks with no new cases of COVID-19, and all cases had recovered, before the Campbellton cluster emerged.
One new case confirmed
Russell confirmed another case of COVID-19 in Zone 5 on Thursday.
The person is a health-care worker in their 20s.
That province's total of active cases is 15. There have been 136 confirmed cases with 120 of those having recovered.
Pandemic restrictions to be loosened outside Zone 5
Premier Blaine Higgs announced that while Zone 5 will remain in the orange phase, the rest of the province will be allowed to move to the next stage of the yellow phase. This was supposed to happen last week, but will begin on Friday.